Hauliers warned the government they would block Dublin port and halt the St Patrick’s Day parade two days before a €100-a-week subsidy to the sector was announced, the Irish Independent can reveal.
Transport Secretary Eamon Ryan and Minister of State for Haulage and Logistics Hildegard Naughton last Friday gave details of a temporary subsidy program of €100 a week for each heavy goods vehicle (lorry) for the next eight weeks.
The scheme, which aims to ease the pressure on hauliers from increased fuel prices, was announced two days after ministers met with the Irish Road Haulage Association (IRHA) on March 9.
Cabinet was told this week that IRHA officials said during last Wednesday’s meeting that hauliers would have to suspend their services immediately if no further cost relief was available.
In addition, support was building among their members for immediate and sustained protest actions, including a blockade at Dublin Port, they said.
The meeting also heard suggestions that such action was imminent and possibly within 48 hours.
IRHA President Eugene Drennan confirmed the details of the meeting but said the warnings of possible disruption had been communicated to the government in the days and weeks ahead of direct contact with ministers.
“We would have come to protest if we had not been treated and we would not have been treated,” Mr Drennan said yesterday. “I don’t think the parade would do that [have been] ahead in Dublin.
“If we ever come to town, it won’t be small. We can stay in the trucks, we have the stoves, fridges, groceries and freezers. We wouldn’t go home when the protest was over. It was advised that there would be no light if we had to get into town.”
Mr Drennan said the war in Ukraine has exacerbated cost problems for hauliers.
A government source last night insisted the warning of a possible disruption “was not the reason why the government reached an agreement”.
“We have been in talks with them about a support package since late last year.
“The €100 payment was a recognition of the real financial pressure the sector was under and its importance in keeping the economy running,” the source said. The program is expected to cost 18 million euros.
Cabinet was told on Tuesday that despite concerns the scheme could lead to claims for comparable treatment by other groups, Mr Ryan said the sector was seen as one of national strategic importance.
Ministers were told major disruptions would have a significant and immediate impact on supply chains.
The Cabinet was also told that the Attorney General’s advice indicated that the subsidy system could be introduced but would need to be put on a statutory footing.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/hauliers-threatened-to-block-dublin-port-and-stop-st-patricks-parade-just-days-before-18m-grant-announcement-41459842.html Hauliers threatened to block Dublin Port and halt St Patrick’s Parade just days before the €18 million grant was announced